Talley’s penalty after crewman decapitation “an insult to all workers”
The union E tū says that it’s disappointed with the attitude of Talley’s Group Ltd and the light penalty it received following the decapitation of a crewman aboard one of its fishing vessels.
24-year-old Leighton Muir died aboard the Capt. MJ Souza, off Kiribati in July 2014, after a broken rope snapped back as he helped haul in a net of tuna.
It was revealed in court yesterday that crew wanted to replace the broken rope which killed Mr Muir but Prosecutor Dale La Hood told the court the ship’s bosun “reacted badly and scared the others off.”
E tū food industry representative Neville Donaldson says this is a clear example of a work culture that puts workers at serious risk.
“The company can blame the skipper and bosun all they want. The fact is, the crew will undertake their role strictly in line with what they believe would be expected by their employer.
“It seems from the prosecutor’s comments that the company placed crew in a dangerous and ultimately fatal environment.
“With the prosecutor identifying systemic failures, not just the failures of people on-board, much of the blame obviously lies with Talley’s Group Ltd itself.
“Sir Peter Talley’s knighthood was for services to business – but this is a business that has killed Kiwis.”
Neville says that the legal process and penalties are not nearly enough to deter companies like Talley’s from compromising the safety of their workers like this again.
“The penalty is an insult to all workers. $73,520 – what message does that send to employers? That they can risk the lives of good people, and when tragedy strikes, as happened here, they’ll get away with what we see as a slap on the wrist.
“Health and safety systems and penalties for transgressions must be significant enough that a worker’s death should be virtually impossible. If the penalties are not sufficiently severe, then employers will see them as the cost of doing business.”
Neville added that it was no coincidence that health and safety catastrophes followed Talley’s companies around.
“Someone died two years earlier on the very same boat, falling through an open hatch. Earlier this year a cleaner was suspended by his head on a meat hook in a Talley’s plant. All this from a business that John Key thinks are worthy of the nation’s highest accolades.
“We are furious. The company has blood on its hands.”